Don's Diary

December 21, 2000

Frantically check annotated Self Assessment Document (Sad) for the arrival of the Quality Assurance Agency subject review inspectors. Intend to rest, but spend the day making final changes to the QAA Subject Review homepage, setting up the links with all the online versions of the university's strategies.

Early phone calls with a colleague who has been working on the annotated Sad. Receive final copy to check at midday - I have two hours for changes. Had not allowed time for this extra task and now work on statistics and cohort analysis late into the night. Leave my progression statistics on cohort analysis for the past three years.

Arrive at the university to find a room full of people arranging flowers and delivering fruit and snacks. Add one or two more vital bits of evidence to a massive ensemble of paperwork when the first reviewer arrives - half an hour early. The presentation goes well, and we adjourn to discuss the emerging issues with our facilitator. After six months' preparation, resulting in 54 boxes, they still seem to want more. The meeting ends at 8.30pm.

The first aspect panel goes alarmingly well. No difficult questions crop up, and we wonder whether they will emerge later. Questions on learning resources and curriculum development are dealt with effectively. The day is going well, start to feel nervous, perhaps we missed something. Not having any information or feedback about the teaching observations leaves us feeling more anxious.

A late-night phone call reveals concerns about Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning procedures and the need to find another student portfolio of evidence.

Emergency meeting is called to answer reviewers' queries. Attend three more aspect panel meetings and feel exhausted, with several questions being re-visited for the third time.

Things have gone quiet on some issues - does this mean they are satisfied or that we have lost a point? In the clarification meeting, reviewers reveal some information that shows they are impressed with the teaching so far.

Arrive to find panic and an emergency meeting on progression statistics. We desperately print duplicate copies of the data. The meeting proceeds well, but are they satisfied? We do not know, but we have done our best.

Take a long lunch. Colleagues have theories about our score ranging from 20 to 24.

Finally, after more delays, the lead reviewer reads the scores: we calculate quietly - 24. There is utter silence. We have done it.

Catch flight to Edinburgh to speak at a conference on widening participation in medicine. Fly back in the afternoon and look forward to a good sleep.

Jane Hemsley-Brown is senior research and teaching fellow in the Research and Graduate School of Education, University of Southampton.


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